17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Improvining Your Photo Skills: Archiving Photos

Any photo we have of an ancestor is precious. So we should consider those who come after us. Read on as I explain how to preserve film, digital images and prints.

I learnt this information while studying for my BFA in Photography.


I am first going to explain some of the chemical process to help everyone understand the fragility of film.

When film is developed there are two main chemicals that are used. Developer and fixer. Developer brings out the images and fixer "fixes" or stops the images from developing into a completely black piece of film or paper. The down side of fixer is that it is acidic. The acid is what turns photos yellow and brittle.

In a professional lab they wash the film for one to two hours to wash out as much fixer as possible. In any other non-professional photo development place, they don't take the time to wash the film long enough. 1 hour photo is the worst, although convenient.

So if you have old film that you are worried about, I would contact your local professional film developer place (if you don't know of one in your area look in the phone book) and ask them if they would be willing to wash your film for you.

If you are planning on taking some really special photos (i.e. family reunion, wedding, new baby photos) take them to the fancy lab.

When it comes to storing your film:

A cool, dry and dark place is the most ideal. You can buy film sleeves (clear plastic pages that can be put in a three ring binder) which are archival. Any professional photo place should have them, they are very affordable.

Here is a good site that specialize in archival supplies: Light Impressions.


Saving images on your computer or external hard drive should be pretty sound.

Honestly no one knows how archival digital photography is, since it has only been around a few decades.

Many people burn their photos to CDs. I can tell you that a normal CD (CD-R), should last for about 30 years (again this is a guess). I can tell you that there are gold CDs (actually made out of gold), which they say is more archival, they guess (100-300 years).

CD too should be kept in a cool dry place. CDs that you leave in your car (which usually are music ones) will soon become coasters since the sun eventually fries the information right off them.


There are two kinds of prints. There are chemical and ink prints. Prints you buy from a photo lab are chemical (whether they are from digital file or from film). Ink prints usually come from personal printers like an Epson or hp printer. Both should be stored in a cool dry place.

Chemical prints are similar to film, in that they use a developer and fixer. I am sure that most of you have photos from childhood that the colors are a bit whacked out or faded. Current technology used today (in general) make a print that is more archival then 30 years ago . I can't tell you how long your photos will last, because each one is different and how the lab develops the print effects their life. You can definitely ask your lab. Or you could look on the back of the print and do an Internet search on that particular type of print. Or you could call the company (Kodak or Fuji) and ask them.

Regardless of what kind of print you have or when it was made no color print will last for ever.
The only for sure images that will last literally to the end of time are professional black and white film and prints that are double washed.

Improving Your Photo Skills: Archiving Your Photos

Improving you Photo Skills: To Flash or Not to Flash

Improving Your Family Photo Skills


  • You can't ignore the problem of changing digital media -- as I was reminded recently when I had to search for someone who could transfer reel-to-reel tapes my father-in-law sent home from Vietnam to something (CD's, in this instance) that we could actually listen to.
    posted by Blogger J at 6/27/2007 07:18:00 AM  

  • J - that is something I think about all the time too. Technology changes so fast!! It's hard to keep up.

    I just barely got an external hard drive to back-up my photos. Before that, I was always very nervous that I would somehow lose all my digital photos - you know how computers can be. I also burn by digital pictures onto CD's every year. But like J said, CD technology could be outdated very quickly and then I will need to transfer them to something else.

    And it makes me a little sad that my digital photos will never be those old, fragile, weathered family photos that are so cool (at least they won't get that way naturally(hello photoshop!).
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 6/27/2007 08:42:00 AM  

  • Thanks for this happy nanny. I am always scared that I'm going to lose my photos b/c most of them are on the computer or saved to CD.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 6/29/2007 12:54:00 PM  

  • Interesting that you would choose to put up a picture of Sir John A. MacDonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada. I guess this was in honour of the 140th Canada Day?
    posted by Blogger D at 7/02/2007 12:32:00 PM  

  • I chose good old Sir John A. MacDonald to give a little secret shout out to my fellow Canadians.
    posted by Blogger happy nanny at 7/17/2007 10:27:00 AM  

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